novatownhall blog

Where you are held accountable for your convictions and record

I can’t prove it. I can speculate.

As I mentioned here, I’ve suspected it since Zawahiri started doing the al Qaeda videos.

Seriously, all his audio and video releases of the past few years have been vague “Death to the Infidels!” blabbering with no reference to anything current. Something tells me we’re getting Tupac remixes.

To my knowledge, the last time he made specific reference to a current event was after we waxed Zarqawi, and it doesn’t take psychic powers from allah to know that was coming.

What’s with the jet black beard?

Listen up, al Qaeda. I don’t believe you. I want proof of life. Give me a picture of the guy holding up today’s newspaper or something. Idiots.

[This post has been updated since I sort of fell asleep in the middle of writing it last night]

The “Devil’s Guard” trilogy of books by George Robert Elford are an anomaly in publishing, consisting of three books which are among the rarest and most expensive post-1970 publications in the world. It is difficult to find even a paperback version of either DG1 (Devil’s Guard) or DG3 (Devil’s Guard III Unconditional Warfare) for less than $150 anywhere, and DG2 (Recall to Inferno) is almost impossible to find under $295. Try some Amazon searches on “Devil’s Guard Elford”, “Recall to Inferno Elford” without the quotes, and you will see what I mean.

Apparently, the copyright holders have no intention of allowing new printings, therefore the price of these books is ridiculously, artificially inflated.

Why these books are significant: Several months after 9-11, while perusing an Internet forum, I read where someone noted “the only way we can win against this enemy is to go the route of the Devil’s Guard.” After a bit of research, I learned that Elford’s works, though highly controversial, were also viewed seriously by military strategists around the globe. The story in these books traces the experiences of a former German Waffen-SS battalion under the command of “Hans Josef Wagemueller” which joins the French Foreign Legion after World War II and heads to Indochina to fight the Viet Minh and ends up playing a role throughout the Vietnam War.

The books are framed as a narrative by Wagemueller recorded by author George Robert Elford. The gist of the narrative is: This is what you absolutely, positively must do if you want to prevail over a terrorist insurgency. Methods employed are extraordinarily harsh, although in the course of the stories the acts of the “good guys” are consonant with those of the enemies. What you get is a true sense of war and what it takes to win a war in such an environment.

I will wait for NR to weigh in on this, because his opinion is the only one that matters as far as I am concerned. Is the Wagemueller story useful, or is it crap?

Anyway (this was the point of the post in the first place but the hour got late before I could finish) I found a copy of DG1 on Amazon the other day for $11, “used” and of course snapped it up. Then a few days later the reseller e-mailed me saying my copy had been returned from the local post office “water damaged” and would I want them to find another copy. I wrote back, “sure, that would be great” thinking in the back of my mind they were going to come back with a $300 copy of the book. A few hours later they wrote to me that they could not find the same edition (1984) but found a 1972 edition, and would I want that instead. 1972 was the first run in paperback.

I said “Sure, thanks so much” and then wondered if I was in the process of being scammed, either to receive a totally different book for $11 (there is a a similar work by the same title), or a first print edition of DG1 for full market price, an amount I would never want to pay for a book regardless of its rarity. Well, yesterday the book arrived, a pretty clean first edition of DG1 in paperback, with the invoice for $15 inclusive of shipping. How odd is that? It is going to be kept in a very safe place.

Another Freep gem, posted on Craigslist:

Great with children (assuming you don’t like the children). Probably best used for professional catfighting. He is housebroken, but only because he wants to be. This attack cat has trained himself to seek out his food anywhere you hide it and rip the bag open to feed himself, great for those who travel extensively. Also trained to drink water out of toilet bowls and dishwater from items in the sink. Knows how to open some doors. He will find you wherever you hide…

For the love of God, someone please take this thing out of my house.

I am not a cat guy, but that sounds like my kind of cat.

Holy Hot Columnists, Batman, Michelle has done it for us again!

As a lower tier, C-grade blogger, I can tell you the one thing that makes it all worthwhile are those unexpected moments when you get a “spike” in traffic for absolutely no reason, and a whole bunch of people visit your site more or less accidentally. Ninety-nine percent of blog “marketing” consists of trying to pull various tricks that cause visitors to click on a link to your site. Whether through clever identification of popular google searches, or just trying to convince Glenn Reynolds you’ve written something worthwhile (tried many times and like the cycles of the planets it has ALWAYS proved beyond my control – if it ever works, I will know death is at hand), the basic idea is “Ha! Made you look!”

Once again, the driving force is my NRI photo of Michelle, because MSN has seen fit to make her their featured “popular search” of the day (click her photo then “See also: Images”). There she is, beginning of the second row.

(More form NRI, here and here.)

I know the vast majority of these folks will never visit here again, but occasional flood of gawkers is nice.

Thanks, Michelle! If you ever want me to return the favor, I’ll be happy to provide a head shot which you can publish with abandon.

UPDATE: Approaching 2500 visits. That’s a couple grand at least from Michelle, and counting.

Y’know what? When the Malkinator brings that kind of traffic, the lithesome one goes back on the front page again.

Michelle Malkin

Found in a Freep post: It is reported in a Spanish-language paper that both John McCain and Barack Obama told the NALEO Conference audience they would push for comprehensive immigration reform before the 100th day of their presidency.

I imagine no one has fallen off their chair from learning this.

But don’t plan that Election Day fishing trip before reading this article on the impact each candidate will likely have on the Supreme Court.

As I said I would, I’m chipping in my two cents on some old news here.

I was a little bit annoyed by this. I understand the President is on his way out and wants to protect his legacy, soften his historical image, blah blah blah. I don’t understand why.

You know what? I don’t regret it. Bush’s tone was perfect at the time he used it. We were (and are) a nation facing a tough enemy on multiple fronts, and the Commander in Cheif of the toughest Army in the world needs to be a tough man when dealing with tough situations.

Imagine this:

I regret the tone I took when I stated: “We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.” I think that in retrospect I could have used a different tone, a different rhetoric. I didn’t want to give the world the impression I was a guy really anxious for war.

-Something never said by Winston Churchill

Granted, the President isn’t as skilled with his words as the Prime Minister, but he DID have the right tone. In retrospect, al Qaeda is close to finished, Libya abandoned its pursuit of nukes, Saddam is hanged, Mullah Omar hasn’t been heard from in over a year, North Korea is at least pretending to get rid of its nukes (hey, it’s a step), and that kook in Iran is digging himself into a hole from which he won’t ever get out. Hey, even France is on board with us for that one. Why the regret?

Nothing lasts forever.

Olsson’s Books appears to be in a bad way, suffering the double, or rather triple, whammy of of big-box competitors, online books sales and online music exchanges. They are getting killed by both Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and no one buys CDs at stores anymore.

I moved out of Olsson’s territory in late 1994 when I moved to Reston, never to return further east. But through the early 1980s and until I left, I spent a decent amount of money at the Olsson’s in Old Town Alexandria and a couple locations in DC. Back then, if you wanted a book that was more academic than commercial, Olsson’s was the first place to check.

Living in Reston, I did a huge academic project from 1999-2001, and almost every single one of the dozens of books I procured for research were from either Amazon or Alibris. I don’t think I ever even considered a trip to Olsson’s – even though during college in the early 1980s that was where I bought the lion’s share of books I needed when doing research here at home. Forgot about the bookstore completely: sign of the times.

Next up, the Washington Times: This one truly pains me folks and I hate to be the person saying it. I have copies of this paper in my files from the first year of publication back in the mid 1980s, and I am proud to say I have been a full time subscriber basically since I could afford the simplest amenities of your typical blue-collar existence, which means from about 1995 on. Don’t ask.

I have probably read most copies of the Times, cover to cover, since 1993, and many, many issues in years prior to that (living in Florida most of the 1980s gives me some exemption from missing a few of those issues).

And I still read it cover to cover most days, which is good, because the recent redesign is so completely nonsensical that if I wanted to try to read it topically I’d be lost. The new organizational schema seems to have been designed by social psychologists or accountants, and I am betting on the latter.

Where you used to have the front section for “News” and editorials, like every other paper, then a local “Metropolitan” section which usually had “Business” tacked on, then “Sports” and then “Lifestyles/Arts/Food” (with the occasional weekend additions of “Show” and “Auto” and “Real Estate”), you now have an incomprehensible mish-mash. The front section is some national news, some international news, some local news, and some political news. The “World” section is more international news and also editorials. Then there is “Plugged In” which might be more political news, or business, or something else.

So if you want to find a particular story which not obviously front page material, you need to read the entire thing because it could be anywhere. I read the entire thing so that is ok with me, but it is a bad sign.

The other bad sign is a whole slew of the content is from AP and Reuters. This means you get the same liberal-ideology crap you get from every mainstream news outlet. You still get the excellent top level reporting from the Times’ key reporters, but much of the second-tier news is right off the wires.

The WashTimes has never had the resources of the Post, so none of the Times’ reader community would reasonably hold it to the same level of comprehensiveness. It is short on NASCAR, short on track and field, short on culture. But the Times has long been the key local paper for objective coverage of real news. Now that they are having to scale back on that, I think the end may be near. Jerry Seper is still worth the price of the subscription for me, but I think many readers upon reading AP’s take on the issues of the day will wonder why they need the Times when they can get that everywhere else.

I also think many readers upon reviewing the new Web site will wonder why the three layers of navigation bars across the top, which in my view is about two too many.

It’s tough times for newspapers, sad to see this once-excellent one on a downward spiral.